There are many compelling reasons for supporting World Vasectomy Day, like the over 325 million women who have had tubal ligations—six times the number of vasectomies—even though they are far more invasive, or, that while each of the two procedures fail about 1% of the time, a failure in vasectomy results in a normal pregnancy, while a tubal ligation failure can result in an ectopic pregnancy, a leading cause of maternal mortality.
And yes, it’s true that a small number of men, about 1%, suffer long-lasting pain after a vasectomy. And while, each of the men for whom a vasectomy might have failed, deserve our full sympathy, the truth is, there is no effective long-lasting form of birth control that doesn’t carry some risk. The difference is that taking risks and making a sacrifice is what women do every day for over one-third of their lives. Isn’t it right that we take on some of the risk that comes with being responsible?
Women are amazing. They have always been so, but in today’s world, they’re even more incredible. They are beautiful, courageous, supportive, hard working and kind. They give birth to our children. They are rising up in every profession. They are leading the way in education. They are working side by side with us and inspiring us to do better and be smarter.
Last week I was in a slum in the outskirts of Nairobi to mobilize men for World Vasectomy Day when a local doctor stood up to speak. The group, about 40 strong, listened intently. “Men, I think I speak for everyone when I say, we are not as good at women at enduring pain. To be blunt, if we gave birth, there would never, ever be a second child!” The group clearly related because everyone burst into laughter. I laughed right along.
By chance, later that day I was sent an article about a new hormonal based form of contraception for men, that is electrifying the internet. There were 320 men who participated. It had a 96% success rate (not great, but a big step forward) and 75% of the participants in the study were satisfied. My first reaction was ‘Fantastic’ as there is no doubt that men need and deserve alternatives.
I soon found out that the experiment had been suspended. Why So what were the side effects of this potentially new alternative in contraception; depression, muscle pain, mood swings, acne and an increase to one’s libido. At least the last one shouldn’t have been a problem. There are pharmaceutical companies that have made their fortunate offering that option to men!
So do those side effects sound familiar?
Of course, they are the same ones associated with almost all the drugs on the market, not to mention all of the FP commodities offered to women. The same effects women have endured to protect us from an unplanned pregnancy for years. Of course, two wrongs don’t make a right and if the drugs offered to women are unhealthy for them, they should also be pulled from the market, but the fact is after 50 years it’s been generally accepted that whatever the risk associated with the Pill, the IUD or any of the other choices, it’s safer and more empowering than the alternative.
I can’t comment on the specifics of this trial. I’m neither a doctor nor do I have access to the underlying data, but the likelihood is that if men were the ones who got pregnant and we had an alternative out there that had some risks associated with it, but the alternative was the pain, not to mention the risk, of childbirth, we’d be begging companies to get on with it.
It is a privilege to be a man living in the presence of the feminine. We seek positive energy to pursue our dreams. Look no further for inspiration than towards the extraordinary women who surround us. World Vasectomy Day exists to honor the power and beauty of women.
We can’t do it alone. Join us. Visit our web page, like our Facebook page, connect with us on Twitter, and if you can, please consider supporting our crowdfunding campaign. Share your vasectomy stories, get a vasectomy if the time is right and help us spread the movement as we commit to building sustainable vasectomy programs the world over.
Photo: Sheila Gabeya